PAX 2008: X-Blades Preview
Written Saturday, October 04, 2008 By James Parkin
X-Blades is an upcoming action hack-and-slash port coming from Russian developer Gaijin Entertainment. I say port because X-Blades was previously released in 2007 for the PC under the name of Oniblade (in Russian language only). The game follows the role of Ayumi, a gun and sword wielding treasure hunter as she tries to reveal a curse that has tainted her body while ultimately trying to defeat the ultimate darkness.
The game consists of the traditional plot of good (The Enlightened) versus evil (The Dark One). The Enlightened helped his people whenever he could while The Dark One was full of hate and devilish works. Because of the immense clash between them, their battle lasted for centuries and humans suffered terribly from the constant combat between the two. Finally, thanks to a trick by The Enlightened, he succeeded in banishing the divine power of The Dark One imprisoning him into an artifact, but in doing so The Enlightened also imprisoned himself into an artifact since the two were linked together, a bit like the connection Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named share. In the hope that no one would find the artifacts, the two were hidden deep in an ancient temple and if any human-being comes in contact with the powerful stones, they will be horribly cursed, and the power of darkness will once again be awakened.
The game begins when a map which has been lost for countless years suddenly turns up and shows the location of the artifacts, why anyone would create a map is beyond me, but alas someone has and it has now been found. The adventurer Ayumi starts searching for the immensely valuable stones and in doing so, is cursed by powerful forces threatening to awake in her body.
Ayumi, our heroine, is equipped with two “gun-blades” which are as they sound, swords with guns … nifty eh? Her trusty companions can be used effectively as swords in hand-to-hand combat switching to shoot various projectiles on the fly. By killing enemies you’ll pick up souls, which in effect act as the game’s currency and with it you can use it to buy new spells. With these souls you can choose to pick either dark or light spells, which ultimately decide what path your character treads each with its own ending. You can also collect upgrade pieces by smashing statues and chests found throughout the levels. Each upgrade requires three of the same piece, so be prepared to smash open quiet a bit of stuff to fully upgrade your character.
The enemies in X-Blades are quiet creative, from Pangos, which are horde fighters with razor sharp teeth that bite and stab until you’re torn to pieces, to Dragon Flys, giant flying one-eyed beast that uses its magical eye to focus evil magical spells upon you. In total there are about thirty different enemies, and nine bosses (including a giant wolf and a giant spider).
X-Blades was shaping up well visually considering it was such an early build and the anime style characters compliment the detailed environments perfectly. The game is said to boast around 40 indoor and outdoor levels, each offering something new from each other in terms of atmosphere. It wasn’t until we saw one of Ayumi’s devastating spells however that we could truly appreciate the visuals. At this point Ayumi was surrounded by a plethora of enemies getting her proverbial ass handed to her when she triggered this spell that caused the screen to explode with color and perish all Ayumi’s surrounding enemies. One nagging feature I did happen to notice while playing the demo was the inability to skip some scenes. When using one of your more advanced spells, the game automatically goes into a cutscene that shows Ayumi using such spell, while they look fantastic and are great to watch the first couple times, the inability to skip through them gets a bit tedious.
In the grand scheme of things, while walking away from the X-Blades booth a line from one of the developers stuck fresh in my mind, “X-Blades’ pretty much Ninja Gaiden, but with a girl in a thong.” From what I saw, I’m not sure if I can really disagree with him, but the game does look to have its own original elements. It doesn’t quite have the gore that Gaiden has, or the combat system, but it does looks rather pretty, although the whole anime thing is very niche these days.
Expect to see X-Blades in early 2009 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.